How to include frontline staff in your CX strategy
The staff who meet and talk to your customers play a huge role in executing your CX strategy. So why not loop them into the planning stages too?
Frontline staff deal with your customers on a day-to-day basis, which means they’re collecting customer feedback and insights almost effortlessly. Not only are customers approaching them directly with praise or concerns, they’re also able to perceive big-picture patterns, such as noticing which products attract in-store attention but rarely result in a purchase, or if customers get confused by the wording of your signage on frequent occasions.
Why is the voice of the employee valuable for CX?
Why would you collect feedback from your employees about customers if you’re already getting feedback directly from those same customers? Put simply, it’s because staff will tell you things that customers cannot.
For one thing, they have a level of product knowledge that far exceeds the typical customer, so they’ll be able to assess customer brand and product awareness from an informed standpoint. This can help you identify actions that you need to take in marketing and promoting your offering.
Staff also know things about customer behavior that customers don’t. A customer will tell you what they think and feel about your brand and what their intentions are or were. A staff member will tell you which actions that same customer actually took, observed from an objective point of view.
Tap into your frontline resources
If you want to bring your frontline staff into your strategy, tell them about it! Most staff will appreciate having their employer value their knowledge and opinions, especially if they can see their feedback being put into action and making a difference.
Reach out to staff, either in person or through a bulletin or email, and let them know you’re putting together a new customer experience program based on what they know, and that their knowledge of customer behavior and interactions will help shape the future of the business.
Outline the communication channels you’ll use to collect their feedback and the type of information you’re looking for.
Pointers on how frequently to feed back and the level of detail required are likely to be welcome too, especially if feedback and reportage isn’t a normal part of your frontline staff’s day-to-day role.
Designing a feedback survey for frontline staff
If you’re collecting staff insights on customer experience using a survey, here are a few useful questions to ask.
What do customers tell you over and over again?
This question will help you identify the pain points or key strengths of your customer experience. If there’s something about your location that pleases or frustrates a large volume of customers, to the point where they’re telling staff about it, there are huge potential gains to be made. Maybe you’ll fix a problem and dramatically improve the experience for the customer. Or maybe you’ll become aware of a benefit you can then promote and maximize.
If you could change one thing about our products and services, what would it be?
With this question, you’re looking for consistency across feedback from many different staff members. Most staff will have a personal opinion on what should change, and that’s useful to know, but on its own it doesn’t add up to an actionable insight. However, if multiple staff tell you the same thing, such as “simplify the process of signing up for a loyalty card” or “reduce the number of tiers in the subscription service”, you know you’re dealing with a pain-point that affects many customers and staff and demands immediate attention.
What would help you do your job better?
Leaving the wording of this question open allows your frontline staff to identify in their own words what resources would help them to help the customer. It may be a process or tool, such as faster stock lookup or better integration with a contact center, or it may be relationship-driven, such as more hands-on management support or a refresher training course.
What one thing would make life easier for our customers?
This question gets right to the heart of what CX is all about – solving customer problems and delivering a better all-round experience. Whether it’s through customer service, product design, locations that deliver on customer needs and desires, digital integration or something else entirely. Leave the format of this question open so your staff have the maximum freedom to express their answers.
Request feedback on your strategic plans
Feedback about what’s happening on the shop floor can be hugely instructive, but you don’t need to stop there. As well as gathering feedback from frontline staff about how things are working at your locations, you can bring in their knowledge at the drafting stages of your strategy by sharing your plans with them.
Just as you’d obtain buy-in from executive and C-suite levels at the planning stage, you can benefit from getting frontline staff on board at an early stage. They’ll have the opportunity to give you their steer on your approach, and they’ll also be more engaged with your strategy when it’s put into practice since they’ve played a part in developing it. It’s a relatively simple move, but one that can deliver a huge return on investment in terms of the quality of your CX.
Again, a survey is an excellent way to present your ideas in a digestible, familiar format and gather feedback without taking up too much time and energy from frontline staff.
Your survey design could include multiple-choice questions, such as:
"Our proposed strategy is built around three pillars – speed, value and product range. Which of these do you feel is most relevant to the majority of our customers?"
Or free text, e.g:
“Our research suggests that speed, value and product range are the most important things to our customers. What else should be included and why?”
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